TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

HHS partnership furthers development of potential Ebola drug

HHS partnership furthers development of a potential Ebola drug. | Courtesy of sciencedaily.com

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday its Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) recently partnered with the Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing (CIADM) to further develop and create a drug to treat the Ebola virus.

The experimental drug is related to Mapp Biopharmaceuticals’ ZMapp, which was used in tobacco plants. The therapeutic drug combines ZMapp’s three monoclonal antibodies but uses only specific mammalian cells instead of tobacco. The monoclonal antibodies are designed to bind to crucial viral proteins and effectively eliminate the virus. This will reduce the quantity of the virus that the immune system must fight, making it easier to overcome the disease.

CIADM, which is led by Emergent BioSolutions in Gaitherburg, Maryland, and is focused on creating and producing vaccines and drugs for emergencies, has the necessary experience to create a therapeutic drug for Ebola.

The agreement between CIADM and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA, a branch of ASPR) will enable the two organizations to further develop and produce the first experimental monoclonal antibody drug. The agreement is worth $19.7 million and is scheduled to be completed in two years.

“Preventing, detecting and treating Ebola infections remains critical not only for the current epidemic in West Africa but also to minimize the impacts of future outbreaks,” BARDA Director Robin Robinson said. “The development of this experimental drug represents significant progress in making Ebola therapeutics available. Our CIADM partners have the expertise, capacity, and state-of-the-art facilities required to make promising therapeutic candidates quickly.”

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